The Most Innovative of Whiskies
From our tall stills (we have Scotland’s tallest) to the introduction of wood finishes (we pioneered extra-maturation) Glenmorangie has always been an innovative company in a traditional business.
In 2009 Glenmorangie released the world’s first single malt whisky made with high roasted chocolate malt barley. That seemingly small innovation – the inclusion of tumble roasted grains – led to the creation of, perhaps, Scotland’s most feted single malt whisky. Yet close examination reveals that successful innovation is not simply the product of febrile imagination! Rather, caffeine fuelled flights of fancy work best when paired with an absolute devotion to creating the Unnecessarily Well Made… This is the story of Glenmorangie Signet:
Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s whisky creator, became a coffee aficionado back when he was a student in Scotland. Coffee connoisseurs may have been myriad in Milan and San Francisco but they were few and far between in 1980’s Edinburgh…
Undaunted, the young Dr Bill, then studying for a PHD in Biochemistry, obsessed over the subtleties of various single estate beans and the ideal roasting levels for optimum flavour extraction! He also settled on a favourite coffee, one made from the high-altitude beans of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains and it is their silky and smooth yet complex flavour profile which would later inspire him to create Glenmorangie Signet, the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of coffee-fuelled ideas and dreams. It is a whisky which Dr Bill believes is the most unusual ever produced in Scotland. Since its release in 2009 it has won countless awards and enjoyed - arguably - more critical acclaim than any other Scottish whisky.
Glenmorangie Signet is the pinnacle of our permanent range of expressions, the summation of everything meant by the Glenmorangie ethos, Unnecessarily Well Made, a philosophy best understood when Signet’s complex make-up is explained.
Glenmorangie Signet is a unique fusion of scarce and exceptional elements which make it our rarest, most complex malt whisky, one of the most prestigious whiskies available. At its core is whisky from high-roasted ‘chocolate’ malted barley which imparts a distinctive mocha background. This barley is tumble-roasted – just like coffee beans - in tiny quantities each year. Whisky made from Glenmorangie’s own Cadboll barley, an exceptionally rare single-estate crop, is included. It brings Glenmorangie’s celebrated creaminess to the spirit.
Whisky aged in Spanish oak Oloroso sherry casks, from some of Jerez’s greatest bodegas, add dried fruit spiciness and sweetness. Glenmorangie from the famous ‘designer casks’ - made from slow growth, air-seasoned Missouri oak - delivers richness, including notes of vanilla and fudge. And whisky aged in new charred oak casks supplies toasty notes. In addition to these elements are some remarkable rarities from the company’s extensive archives. The complexity of its parts and production are reflected in its appearance, aromas and flavours. Its colour is a deep, dark gold and its bouquet is chocolate and espresso coffee. The texture is voluptuous and luxurious. And the intense taste confirms its beguiling bouquet, a melting sweetness with additions of cinnamon, ginger and Seville Oranges, tempered by delicious bitter mocha. Its persistent length delivers wave upon wave of creamy vanilla, but marked by a citrus freshness and mint too. It is a matchless velvet explosion of taste, a different direction for Glenmorangie, a whole new approach for whisky generally. Jim Murray’s tasting notes for Signet exclaimed, “believe me, you are in for one hell of a show.”
Its name celebrates the enigmatic pattern taken from a lower panel of the 1300 year old carving on The Cadboll Stone, an ancient Pictish monument which once stood close to Glenmorangie’s distillery in the Scottish Highlands. It is the swirling shape you know from Glenmorangie’s brand emblem. Using it to name this whisky declares its distinctive provenance and symbolises the gifts of nature and time that continue to flow in the whisky: it suggests the water which comes from Glenmorangie’s own source, The Tarlogie Spring, through which ancient rainfall reappears hundreds of years after it has first fallen, deliciously filtered and enriched by ancient limestone; it speaks of the Glenmorangie estate barley grown in the local fields; and intimates that this unique time-tested terroir is at the heart of a very modern whisky. Glenmorangie’s heritage and the distillery’s accumulated knowledge is all there in this most accomplished spirit. It’s the culmination of experience gained at our distillery since we began production back in 1843, so you might say it’s been 170 years in the making. Although, given its origins in our natural resources and ancient stones, 170 years may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Inspired by our unique environment, we commissioned the American artist, Dan Snow, to create a memorable piece of art close to the distillery. Internationally acclaimed for his exceptional stone sculptures, he has produced something for us which is visually stunning, remarkable in its conception and execution. It is the swirling signet pattern recreated in dry stone three dimensionally, “an abstract piece, something visitors could walk around and delve into, something that might feel like an exploration of time,” the artist explains. In making use of locally sourced materials his sculpture demonstrates what can be achieved with the expert use of nature’s bounty, just as Glenmorangie Signet itself does.